For three decades, an Indian businessman cherished having a unique name — before the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Kovid Kapoor, 31, an entrepreneur from Bengaluru in southern Karnataka state, has only ever met one other Kovid, during his college days.
Throughout his life, the entrepreneur has explained the meaning of his name, which is taken from a Hindu religious hymn.
Kovid — pronounced with a soft “d” — means “scholar” and, true to his name, he studied hard at the Indian Institute of Technology.
But things changed two years ago when Covid-19 emerged.
“I always had a very uncommon name and I knew that … the name has a very good meaning, so I like it, but when I heard 'Covid', the only logical reaction to that was to take it in stride and try to find some humour,” Mr Kapoor told The National.
As the virus spread and the pandemic gripped the world, Mr Kapoor’s name left many bewildered and amused.
From cafes to immigration and security airport checks, Mr Kapoor said people either smiled or looked curiously at him when he announced his name.
He even received a cake from friends with “Covid-30" written on it for his 30th birthday because the baker had misspelled his name.
Mr Kapoor has taken people's reactions with humour, eventually changing his Twitter bio to read, “My name is Kovid and I'm not a virus” — mimicking a famous dialogue from a Bollywood blockbuster starring Shah Rukh Khan.
“It now gets a lot of focus … the general reaction is half the time, people try to make a slight joke or comment or smile. Recently at an airport security check, someone asked me if I have just changed my name,” Mr Kapoor said.
The businessman said he was astonished when the World Health Organisation named the virus Covid, but he admits to feeling a bit chuffed when bigwigs such as former US president Donald Trump said “his” name.
“I first learnt of the name when WHO announced it on Twitter … My first reaction was of disbelief because it was similar to my name. At that point, it was not known that it was going to be such a big deal,” Mr Kapoor told The National.
“It was amusing to hear my name on TV, from Trump to everyone … I was the most famous Kapoor in the world!” Mr Kapoor said.
He even caught and recovered from the disease in May 2021.
Mr Kapoor now feels the pandemic will give a boost to his business as he can easily connect with people across the world.
“My name has benefited me in a few ways, when I am trying to network with someone, as it is instantly memorable.
“It has been a good thing and with the media attention will trickle down into positive PR for my company.”